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Monarchianism is a set of beliefs that emphasize God as being one person.[1][2][3] The term was given to Christians who upheld the "monarchy" of God against the Logos theology of Justin Martyr and apologists who had spoken of Jesus as a second divine person begotten by God the Father before the creation of the universe.[4][5]


Models of resolving the relationship between the God the Father and the God the Son were proposed in the 2nd century, but later rejected as heretical by the Christian Church when the doctrine of the Trinity was expounded at the First Council of Constantinople, in which it was decided that God was one being that consisted of three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Some of the earliest monarchians were called Alogis because they opposed the doctrine of the Logos, as explained in the canonical Gospel of John.

Two contradictory models of monarchianism have been propounded[1]:

  • Modalism (or modalistic monarchianism) considers God to be one person appearing and working in the different "modes" of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The chief proponent of modalism was Sabellius, hence the view is commonly called Sabellianism. It has also been labeled Patripassianism by its opponents, because it purports that the Person of God the Heavenly Father suffered on the cross.
  • Adoptionism (or dynamic monarchianism) holds that God is one being, above all else, wholly indivisible, and of one nature. It reconciles the "problem" of the Trinity (or at least Jesus) by holding that the Son was not co-eternal with the Father, and that Jesus the Christ was essentially granted godhood (adopted) for the plans of God and for his own perfect life and works. Different flavors of adoptionism hold that Jesus was "adopted" either at the time of his baptism or his ascension. An early exponent of this belief was Theodotus of Byzantium.[2]

Emanuel Swedenborg has also been considered a proponent of modalistic monarchianism, since he emphasizes a uni-personal God. However, he does not see God as appearing in three modes; rather, he sees God as one divine person, Jesus Christ, who has a divine soul of love, divine mind of truth, and divine body of energy.[citation needed]

See also

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